I suffer from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a congenital connective tissue disorder, of which tissue fragility and chronic pain are common symptoms.
I have consulted 22 different healthcare professionals about my pain. I have tried traditional physical therapy, aqua therapy, postural therapy, acupuncture, epidural steroid injections, rolfing, yoga, meditation, magnets, diet, supplements, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and a variety of other non-opioid medications with little success.
For me, opioid pain relievers have provided a cheap and effective way to regain functionality after lengthy periods of disability. In short, opioids control my pain, which allows me to sleep restoratively, allows my body to heal, and allows me to more fully participate in life rather than be confined to bed with debilitating pain.
These medications have been used successfully for centuries to alleviate pain. However, due to a persistent barrage of misinformation, opioids have recently become conflated with addiction in the minds of doctors as well as the general public.
The result is a near universal knee-jerk reaction to condemn any pain sufferer using opioid pain relievers as a suspected addict. This defies the evidence. According to the National Institutes of Health, a mere 5 percent of medical patients taking opioids as directed for a year end up with an addiction disorder.
I have never had a substance abuse problem. However, I have often been denied access to needed pain medication because my doctors were intimidated by overzealous regulators or because the doctors preferred to perform more invasive (and lucrative) “interventional” treatments.
“The DEA is cracking down on doctors who write too many opioid prescriptions,” one doctor explained as she denied my request for medication. “I have kids in college. I cannot afford to lose my medical license.”
“I’m only a primary care physician,” another doctor explained. “You need to see a pain management specialist.” He did not provide a referral.
“I am not a prescription re-filler,” the pain management specialist said scornfully. “I specialize in surgically implanted neurostimulators. I do not want patients like you.” He referred me to the Internet.
Unfortunately, my experiences are far from unusual. Tens of thousands of pain sufferers are subjected to similar prejudice and ill treatment every day. Do not imagine that this problem does not affect you. It affects us all, because through accident or other unforeseen circumstance, anyone could become a pain patient at any time.
Please join hands and do something before it is too late.
Chloe Mathews lives in California. She suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a congenital connective tissue disorder, which has left her with a series of disabling back injuries. Once an avid hiker and yoga practitioner, she is striving to regain her active lifestyle.
National Pain Report invites other readers to share their stories with us.
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The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.